Discovery Museum in financial crisis, doors may close

The popular Discovery Museum in Old Town Eureka is experiencing a financial crisis. Several of the museum’s major business donors have retired or closed shop. Adding in the increased costs of doing business, including rent and insurance, the organization is left in a financial pinch. Without immediate and on-going financial support the museum will not be able to remain open.

Executive director Lynn Langdon says, "The museum runs incredible programs for our youth. It is a community anchor for families, and would be a major loss to not provide these types of learning opportunities for children." Popular programs include Pal Camp in Freshwater, Young Discoverers, Kids Alive, Playgroup and Family Fun Night. The museum also offers a one-of-a-kind discovery gift shop and dozens of educational exhibits open to all residents. It continues to be a popular place for school field-trips giving teachers another tool for hands-on lessons.

The museum’s budget runs under $180,000/year. Every year $8,000-$10,000 has been pulled from the museum’s savings account to cover costs. That account is almost depleted.

The Discovery Museum’s main fundraiser is the well-known Perilous Plunge. Hundreds of community members raise money and jump into the cold Humboldt Bay every March wearing creative costumes. Langdon says the museum’s financial crisis cannot wait until March; they need donations before then to continue to operate the museum and organize the plunge which is scheduled for March 9, 2013. She adds that even if it’s a record breaking year for this big event, it will not be enough to sustain the museum without other sources of funds.

Langdon is staying positive during this hard time stating, "Museum staff, board of directors, volunteers and programs are stronger than ever. We will continue on with our strong momentum and stay optimistic that the community will stand behind us and continue to show their support."

Museum Executive Director Lynn Langdon said, "The Redwood Discovery Museum wants to keep the community informed and up to date regarding the recent financial challenge it has been facing. We are astounded by the amount of support we have received in only one week of putting the word out to the community. It has been overwhelmingly positive, and to date, we have brought in almost $7,000, much of it $100 at a time. We understand that the work is far from over. As an organization, we will be looking at ways to diversify our donation plans and increase community participation in the Perilous Plunge and other events so that we do not find ourselves in the same situation in the future."

Funds are needed in order to insure the doors will stay open and the quality of programs remains at its current levels. Doors could close in early 2013 if funding is not received. To learn more about the museum and ways to help visit the website at www.discovery-museum.org or call (707) 443-9694.

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